nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2009‒05‒16
seventeen papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Family Background, School Quality, Ability and Student Achievement in Rural China âIdentification Using Famine-Generated Instruments By Chen, Qihui
  2. Do School Entry Laws Affect Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes? By Carlos Dobkin; Fernando Ferreira
  3. What Does Global Expansion of Higher Education Mean for the US? By Richard B. Freeman
  4. The effect of early tracking on participation in higher education By Roel van Elk; Marc van der Steeg; Dinand Webbink
  5. Just a Paycheck? Assessing Student Benefits of Work on Faculty Research Projects By Mathews, Leah Greden
  6. Do Investments in Universal Early Education Pay Off? Long-term Effects of Introducing Kindergartens into Public Schools By Elizabeth U. Cascio
  7. Should for-profit schools be banned? By Chumacero, Romulo; Paredes, Ricardo
  8. The effects of competition on the quality of primary schools in the Netherlands By Joëlle Noailly; Suncica Vujic; Ali Aouragh
  9. Productivity of Nanobiotechnology Research and Education in U.S. Universities By Xia, Yin
  10. Childhood Overweight and School Outcomes By Wendt, Minh; Kinsey, Jean
  11. Infrastructure Choices in Education: Location, Build or Repair By Armin Zeinali; Glenn P. Jenkins; Andrey Klevchuk
  12. Education and the Prevalence of Pain By Steven J. Atlas; Jonathan S. Skinner
  13. Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap By Scott E. Carrell; Marianne E. Page; James E. West
  14. The role of firm-level and regional human capital for the social returns to education - Evidence from German social security data By Nils Braakmann
  15. Educational Assortative Mating and Children’s School Readiness By Audrey Beck; Carlos González-Sancho
  16. Factors Influencing Students' Learning at KASB Institute of Technology By Riaz, Kashif; Hussainy, Syed Karamatullah; Khalil, Hamza; Herani, Gobind M.
  17. Do the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs Improve Childrenâs Dietary Quality? By Campbell, Benjamin L.; Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr; Silva, Andres; Park, John L.

  1. By: Chen, Qihui
    Abstract: This paper investigates the determinants of academic achievement in basic education (grade 1-9) for a sample of children (aged 9-12 in 2000) from rural China. A set of instrumental variable generated by the Great Famine in China, 1958-1961, is used to instrument an error-ridden measure of child innate ability, the cognitive ability score of each sampled child. Empirical results indicate strong effects of family background variables such as household income and parental education. Fatherâs education has significantly positive effect on academic achievements for both boys and girls, while motherâs education only matters for girls. Consistent with the common findings in the literature, most of school quality variables do not have significantly positive effects on child academic achievements.
    Keywords: student achievement, school quality, ability, Famine in China 1958-1961, Consumer/Household Economics, Labor and Human Capital, Public Economics, J24, I21, D13,
    Date: 2009
  2. By: Carlos Dobkin; Fernando Ferreira
    Abstract: Age based school entry laws force parents and educators to consider an important tradeoff: Though students who are the youngest in their school cohort typically have poorer academic performance, on average, they have slightly higher educational attainment. In this paper we document that for a large cohort of California and Texas natives the school entry laws increased educational attainment of students who enter school early, but also lowered their academic performance while in school. However, we find no evidence that the age at which children enter school effects job market outcomes, such as wages or the probability of employment. This suggests that the net effect on adult labor market outcomes of the increased educational attainment and poorer academic performance is close to zero.
    JEL: I20 I21
    Date: 2009–05
  3. By: Richard B. Freeman
    Abstract: This study documents the rapid spread of higher education around the world and the consequent reduced share of the US in the world's university students and graduates. It shows that the proportion of young persons who go to college has risen in many advanced countries to exceed that in the US while human capital leapfrogging in the huge populous developing countries has produced massive increases in their university educated work forces. One result of the expansion of higher education overseas is that the US has come to rely extensively on the immigration of highly educated persons to maintain a lead position in science and technology. International students make up roughly half of university graduate immigrants to the US, which makes policies toward those students a key determinant in the country’s success in attracting immigrant talent.
    JEL: J01 J2 J24
    Date: 2009–05
  4. By: Roel van Elk; Marc van der Steeg; Dinand Webbink
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of early tracking on enrollment in and completion of higher education. We compare pupils that are directly tracked in lower general secondary education (‘mavo’) to pupils that postpone their choice of education level by entering secondary education in a combined first-grade class. Potential self-selection problems are addressed in two ways. First of all, using micro data allows us to control for a large set of individual background characteristics including tests of cognitive ability. Second, we exploit differences in regional supply of particular school types. The estimates show that early tracking has a detrimental effect on enrollment in and completion of higher education for pupils who leave primary education with a mavo advice. In addition, we find no evidence that pupils who leave primary education with a higher general secondary education (‘havo’) advice would be negatively affected by being in a comprehensive class together with the mavo advice pupils. Enrollment in and completion of higher education can be increased by stimulating participation in combined first-grade classes that keep pupils with a mavo or havo advice together for an additional one or two years.
    Keywords: early tracking
    JEL: I21
    Date: 2009–03
  5. By: Mathews, Leah Greden
    Abstract: The benefits that students gain from designing and implementing their own independent undergraduate research projects is often presented as a valuable step in their academic career, and a stepping stone to graduate school success. However, it is not clear what benefits students receive when working as undergraduate research assistants on faculty research projects where they, the students, have little or no input into the project or its design. This paper reports on a survey of undergraduate students who participated as wage laborers on two separate faculty-directed research projects. The results of the study suggest that students gain valuable knowledge and skills that serve as constructive preparation for work, personal lives and graduate school careers; in addition, their participation in research enhances their overall undergraduate experience.
    Keywords: student learning, assessment, undergraduate research, Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession,
    Date: 2009
  6. By: Elizabeth U. Cascio
    Abstract: In the 1960s and 1970s, many states introduced grants for school districts offering kindergarten programs. This paper exploits the staggered timing of these initiatives to estimate the long-term effects of a large public investment in universal early education. I find that white children aged five after the typical state reform were less likely to be high school dropouts and had lower institutionalization rates as adults. I rule out similar positive effects for blacks, despite comparable increases in their enrollment in public kindergartens in response to the initiatives. The explanation for this finding that receives most empirical support is that state funding for kindergarten crowded out participation in federally-funded early education among the poorest five year olds.
    JEL: H75 I28 J15 J24
    Date: 2009–05
  7. By: Chumacero, Romulo; Paredes, Ricardo
    Abstract: This paper uses different methods to evaluate the performance of students of public, subsidized, and private schools; distinguishing among for-profit and non-profit schools.
    Keywords: Voucher System; Education; Non-profit; Chile
    JEL: H52 C21 I22
    Date: 2008–09–12
  8. By: Joëlle Noailly; Suncica Vujic; Ali Aouragh
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of competition between primary schools on the quality of education in the Netherlands. Do schools facing more competition in their neighbourhood perform better than schools facing less competition? As a measure of school quality, we look at the performance of pupils at the nationwide standard test (the so-called Cito test) in the final year of primary education. Since competition is likely to be endogenous to the quality of schools, we use the distance between the school and the town centre as an instrument for the level of competition faced by a school. The intuition is that schools located close to the town centre, which are easily accessible to a large number of parents, face more competition than schools located further away from the town centre. Using a large range of data on pupil, school and market characteristics, we find that school competition has a small positive significant effect on pupil achievement. An increase in competition by one standard deviation (comparable to 5 additional schools in the market) increases pupil achievement at the Cito test by five to ten percent of the mean standard deviation, so about less than one point. This result is robust to a large range of specifications.
    Keywords: education; competition; primary schools; pupil achievement
    JEL: I20 H70 R5
    Date: 2009–02
  9. By: Xia, Yin
    Abstract: The National Science Foundation (NSF) estimates that nanotechnology will become a trillion-dollar industry by 2015 and that 800,000 workers will be needed in this field in the United States. Nanobiotechnology â the interface of nanotechnology and the life sciences â is one of the most active and promising application frontiers in nanotechnology. To assess the productivity of basic and applied research and education in this field, I construct a structural model composed of a system of three equations which respectively represent the productions of a universityâs scientific publications, patents, and graduate training outputs. The model is estimated using a unique data set on thirty universities that participated in nanobiotechnology during the 1990-2005 period. Ten of them are private universities, ten are public land-grant universities, and ten are public non-land-grant universities. Universities indeed serve as a principal seedbed for future development of the cutting-edge nanobiotechnology. NSF investment in nanobiotechnology strongly affects the universityâs basic science research and graduate education. The universityâs research expenditures in life sciences, engineering, and physical sciences contribute to its nanobiotechnology fields. Importantly, there is no evidence that science and graduate training compete strongly with one another. Rather, basic science research and graduate education serve as strong complements to one another, while basic science and applied research, and applied research and graduate education serve as weak complements. On average, public non-land-grant universities are more efficient in applied research. Such characteristics of universities, however, do not significantly affect the universitiesâ efficiencies in basic research and graduate education in nanobiotechnology. Presence of a nanotechnology research center on campus enhances the universityâs basic science research and a formal nanotechnology education program promotes the universityâs graduate education.
    Keywords: nanotechnology, graduate education, university research, productivity, Productivity Analysis, Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies,
    Date: 2009
  10. By: Wendt, Minh; Kinsey, Jean
    Abstract: This paper investigates the association between weight and elementary school studentsâ academic achievement, as measured by standardized Item Respond Theory scale scores in reading and math. Data for this study come from the 1998 cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten-Fifth Grade (ECLS-K), which contains a large national sample of children between the ages of 5 and 12. Estimates of the association between weight and achievement were obtained by utilizing two regression model specifications, a mixed-effects linear model and a student-specific fixed-effects model. A comprehensive set of explanatory variables such as a householdâs motivation in helping the student learn (e.g. parentsâ expectations for their childâs schooling and levels of parental involvement with school activities), teacher qualification, and school characteristics are controlled for. The results show that malnourished children, both underweight and overweight, especially obese, achieve lower scores on standardized tests, particularly for mathematics, when compared to normal weight children. The outcomes are more pronounced for female students compared to male students. These results emphasize the need to reduce childhood malnutrition, especially childhood obesity.
    Keywords: Childhood overweight, academic achievement, ECLS-K, Consumer/Household Economics, Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession,
    Date: 2009
  11. By: Armin Zeinali (Queen's University); Glenn P. Jenkins (Queen's University); Andrey Klevchuk (Cambridge Resources International Inc.)
    Abstract: The purpose of this study is to develop a model to arrive at a joint optimizing strategy for the use of a given capital budget for the construction of new school buildings and for the repair of the already existing schools. This is to be done in a way that will have the maximum positive impact on the enhancement of the education system. Cost effectiveness analysis is used as the main analytical tool in the analysis. A key factor of the model is that it gives one the optimal mix of repair versus new construction that should be undertaken under a fixed budget constraint. The model is simulated using a sample data set from the information available for the education sector of Limpopo Province, South Africa. It utilizes a very basic set of information that is available in all school districts across the province. Application of this model for the selection of infrastructure investments (either building or repair) in the education sector would increase the efficiency of capital expenditure in this sector. This is particularly the case for the countries that are faced with a large excess demand for school buildings.
    Keywords: education, cost effectiveness, school location, school construction, school repair, South Africa
    JEL: D61 I28 H52 H75
    Date: 2009–04
  12. By: Steven J. Atlas; Jonathan S. Skinner
    Abstract: Many Americans report chronic and disabling pain, even in the absence of identifiable clinical disorders. We first examine the prevalence of pain in the older U.S. population using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Among 50-59 year females, for example, pain rates ranged from 26 percent for college graduates to 55 percent for those without a high school degree. Occupation, industry, and marital status attenuated but did not erase these educational gradients. Second, we used a study of patients with lower back pain and sciatica arising from intervertebral disk herniation (IDH). Initially, nearly all patients reported considerable pain and discomfort, with a sizeable fraction undergoing surgery for their IDH. However, baseline severity measures and surgical or medical treatment explained little of the variation in 10-year outcomes. By contrast, education exerted a strong impact on changes over time in pain: just 9 percent of college graduates report leg or back pain "always" or "almost always" after 10 years, compared to 34 percent for people without a high school degree. This close association of education with pain is consistent with recent research emphasizing the importance of neurological – and perhaps economic -- factors in the perception of pain.
    JEL: I1
    Date: 2009–05
  13. By: Scott E. Carrell; Marianne E. Page; James E. West
    Abstract: Why aren’t there more women in science? Female college students are currently 37 percent less likely than males to obtain a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and comprise only 25 percent of the STEM workforce. This paper begins to shed light on this issue by exploiting a unique dataset of college students who have been randomly assigned to professors over a wide variety of mandatory standardized courses. We focus on the role of professor gender. Our results suggest that while professor gender has little impact on male students, it has a powerful effect on female students’ performance in math and science classes, their likelihood of taking future math and science courses, and their likelihood of graduating with a STEM degree. The estimates are largest for female students with very strong math skills, who are arguably the students who are most suited to careers in science. Indeed, the gender gap in course grades and STEM majors is eradicated when high performing female students’ introductory math and science classes are taught by female professors. In contrast, the gender of humanities professors has only minimal impact on student outcomes. We believe that these results are indicative of important environmental influences at work.
    JEL: I20 J24
    Date: 2009–05
  14. By: Nils Braakmann (Institute of Economics, University of Lüneburg)
    Abstract: This paper provides first evidence on the anatomy of human capital externalities arising from both firm-level and regional human capital. Using panel data from German social security records, both at an individual and aggregated at the plant and regional level, I estimate earnings functions incorporating measures of regional and firm-level human capital while controlling for various types of unobserved heterogeneity. The results suggest that the firm-level share of high-skilled workers generates positive, although small social returns to education for low-skilled and skilled workers but not for the high-skilled. This finding is in line with learning based theories of human capital externalities. Some estimates also suggest negative social returns for the regional shares of low-skilled workers. No such effects are found for the firm-level shares of low-skilled workers and the regional shares of high-skilled workers.
    Keywords: Human capital externalities, social returns to education, error-component model
    JEL: D62 J24 J31 R11
    Date: 2009–04
  15. By: Audrey Beck (Princeton University); Carlos González-Sancho (Juan March Institute and Nuffield College)
    Abstract: One of the concerns behind parental educational sorting is its potential to widen disparities in the ability of families to invest in their children’s development. Using data from the Fragile Families and Children Wellbeing Study, this paper investigates the association between parental educational homogamy and children’s school readiness at age 5. Our analyses reveal a positive impact of homogamy across child outcomes, most notably on socio-emotional indicators of development. Enhanced levels of parental agreement about the organization of family life and symmetry in the allocation of time to child care emerge as the intervening mechanisms behind this association. Our findings lend support to theoretical claims about the relevance of within-family social capital in the creation of human capital.
    Date: 2009–03
  16. By: Riaz, Kashif; Hussainy, Syed Karamatullah; Khalil, Hamza; Herani, Gobind M.
    Abstract: The research article looks into the psychological and other characteristics that play a role in students’ learning ability. In all the observations we have found some students performing better than the others, this display of performance in their studies implies the presence of certain factors which are different from others or play a role in their better learning capabilities. These factors may be present in students, teachers, institutions and others. This article is an attempt to highlight those factors which may be required on part of the students, teachers, institutions and others that may or may not play a significant role in enhancing students’ learning capabilities, the sample of 103 is used to infer the significance of these factors. Through research we were able to answer as per students, punctuality of the teacher is somewhat important in enhancing learning. Clarity of speech was considered an insignificant feature. The most preferred quality of the teacher which is responsible for ranking a teacher as the best teacher is cooperativeness. Another finding was the relationship between CGPA obtained and consulting teacher outside class, which we concluded that there is a strong relationship between consulting teacher and obtaining good CGPA. Lastly we found that time spend in library has no significant association with understanding of topic when taught.
    Keywords: Students’ Learning; Students and Teacher Characteristics
    JEL: I29 M31 A23 I23 I21
    Date: 2008–12–31
  17. By: Campbell, Benjamin L.; Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr; Silva, Andres; Park, John L.
    Keywords: propensity score matching, National School Lunch Program, National School Breakfast Program, NHANES, Agricultural and Food Policy, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety,
    Date: 2009

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